How To Choose A Boswellia Serrata Supplement

There is a wide selection of boswellia serrata supplements available on the market and they come in different formulations. If you’re on the lookout for one, this article will help you choose which product is right for you.



What is boswellia serrata?

Boswellia serrata is an ancient herb that has been used in traditional Indian medicine or Ayurveda for centuries. It is a gum resin extracted from the resinous tree boswellia, which is native in the dry mountainous regions of India, Northern Africa, and Middle East.

Preferred over nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), boswellia serrata is most famous for its ability to reduce inflammation and joint pain associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia, but research has shown that it can also aid in fighting cancer as well as other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Active ingredients in boswellia serrata

Boswellia serrata owes much of its medicinal properties to its active ingredients, the boswellic acids, which have the unique ability to inhibit the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX). This is a harmful enzyme that converts into pro-inflammatory substances leukotrienes, which contribute to the onset of a myriad of inflammatory diseases like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, asthma, and many others (1).

There are six types of boswellic acids, but AKBA (3-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) is considered to be the most powerful. KBA (11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) and BBA (beta-boswellic acid) also seem to be more potent than the others.

Boswellia serrata supplements available today are typically standardized to contain high concentration of these active ingredients.

Things to consider when choosing boswellia serrata supplement

1. Look for high concentration of boswellic acids

The first thing you need to make sure when choosing a boswellia serrata supplement is that it has an adequate concentration of the active ingredients.

Research shows that boswellia serrata supplements should be standardized to have at least 37.5% of boswellic acids in order to be effective. Majority of what you will find available online have around 65%.

To find out how much boswellic acid the product contains, look at the label. Search for the statement that reads “standardized to X percent of boswellic acids.” This is often featured prominently alongside the product name and again at the back of the label, where you can read nutrition facts and more detailed supplement description.

2. Check the levels of AKBA (the most potent boswellic acid)

AKBA is the most powerful boswellic acid. The problem with most conventional boswellia extracts is that they contain very low levels of AKBA.

Out of the 50-60% of boswellia acids contained in the typical standardized boswellia serrata extract, only 2-3% is AKBA.

AKBA employs a more direct, non-redox approach in preventing 5-LOX from evolving into harmful pro-inflammatory leukotrienes. This involves binding directly with the destructive enzyme (2) (3). 

Some supplements, though, are standardized specifically to contain more AKBA. The levels of AKBA in these special supplements can be up to 10 times the amounts found in typical boswellia extracts.

These patented AKBA-centric solutions of boswellia serrata include ApresFlex, 5-Loxin, and BosPure. They are discussed in detail later in the article. As a rule, these extracts are considered more effective than the products standardized to all boswellic acids.

3. Look for supplements with enhanced bioavailability

Boswellic acids have a problem with low bioavailability. The reason for this is that they are not water soluble. Once ingested, they are poorly absorbed and eliminated quickly from the body. Only very little amounts get in the blood and to the major organs. As a result, boswellia supplements have difficulties achieving the desired therapeutic effects.

Several formulations have been developed to overcome this issue. We’ll discuss them in more details below.

Making boswellia more bioavailable with phytosome formulation

Researchers have found that when paired with phospholipids (4) (5) like lecithin (6), the solubility of boswellia serrata is increased several fold.

A patented solution called Boswellia Phytosome or Casperome uses soy lecithin phytosome formulation to increase bioavailability.

A study has found that Casperome increases the brain tissue levels of KBA and AKBA by 35 times and the BBA 3-fold (7). Boswellic acid levels in poorly vascularized organs like the eyes were 17 times higher and the overall plasma levels rose by 3 times for BBA and 7 times for KBA.

At the moment, there’s only one boswellia serrata supplement that uses Boswellia Phytosome: Thorne Research.

Increasing absorption of boswellia serrata with piperine (black pepper extract)

Some boswellia serrata supplements contain black pepper extract or piperine to improve the bioavailability of boswellic acids. Piperine is usually added in very small amounts and its effect lasts for only 1-2 hours.

Black pepper achieves better absorption by delaying the elimination of various substances from the liver and gut and increasing the production of glucuronic acid in the intestines. This enables the active substances from boswellia to get into the bloodstream in higher amounts.

As a side effect of black pepper, harmful substances and toxins also stay longer in the body. This may lead to liver damage in the long run. That is why it is better to find other ways to achieve enhanced bioavailability or at least make sure that the supplement has small concentration of piperine (recommended dosage is up to 5-15mg per day).

Two of the most popular standardized boswellia serrata supplements with Bioperine you can find are Superior Labs Boswellia Extract (500mg) and True Recovery Boswellia Extract (1000mg).

Wokvel Boswellia: Biovailable form with boswellic acids in natural ratios

A less known special formulation that tackles boswellia serrata’s bioavailability issue is Wokvel, which is literally marketed as the “biovailable form of boswellia serrata.” It contains only 40% of standardized boswellic acids (which is less than what other supplements have), but preserves these boswellic acids in natural ratios. This way the boswellia serrata extract remains as close to its natural form as possible. Wokvel is made more water soluble and absorbable with Solid Lipid Particle (SLP) technology.

The only supplement with pure Wokvel you can find is the one by Progena. This is because it is often paired with another herbal ingredient called curcumin. We’ll talk about Wokvel boswellia serrata supplements towards the end of this article.

4. Pay attention to additives and fillers

As with any supplement, make sure your boswellia serrata supplement has little to no fillers or additives. These are added just for manufacturing efficiency and potentially do more harm than good in the body. Check to see if the boswellia serrata supplement is free of allergens. Manufacturers will usually indicate the purity of their product in the packaging and description, but make it a habit to check the “other ingredients” section on the back of the packaging.

Also take a look if the product was third party tested or was manufactured in a facility compliant with GMP (good manufacturing practices), FDA (Food and Drug Administration), or USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). This is an assurance of the supplement’s quality.

You would also want the product free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are ingredients altered on a molecular and cellular level that pose potential health risks. Determine this by checking for “non-GMO” or “GMO-free” in the packaging.

Boswellia can trigger miscarriage

Boswellia serrata has been proven to be generally safe. However, women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive are not advised to take boswellia serrata supplement as it can trigger menstruation and induce birth-related problems including miscarriage.

Don’t take boswellia alongside NSAIDs

Don’t take boswellia serrata supplements alongside non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) without consulting your doctor because of possible harmful interactions.

Types of boswellia serrata supplement

There are a lot of boswellia serrata supplements available on the market. They come in many forms, which include capsules, softgels, and powder form. You can also get tablets and hybrids called caplets.

It doesn’t really matter which form you take; this depends solely on your preference. What’s important is the potency of boswellia extract in the supplement.

Based on potency, we can roughly divide boswellia supplements into a couple of categories:

  1. Standardized boswellia extracts
  2. Boswellia supplements with higher AKBA concentration
  3. Supplements that contain a combination of boswellia serrata and curcumin

In this article, we’ll first describe the least potent formulations, which are those standardized to a certain concentration of boswellic acids. These supplements are commonly used for mild arthritis pain, asthma, and overall subjective well-being.

Then, we’ll talk about the more powerful supplements that have up to 10 times more AKBA than regular boswellia extracts. People take them for managing chronic inflammatory conditions and report better and quicker results than with the regular standardized boswellia extracts.

We’ll conclude with supplements that contain boswellia and curcumin. Like boswellia, curcumin is also a powerful anti-inflammatory substance, so these supplements are generally used for chronic inflammation treatment and additional intestinal health benefits from curcumin.

Standardized boswellia serrata extracts

These supplements are extracted from boswellia serrata gum resin and are almost always standardized to contain at least 65% of boswellic acids.

By taking this kind of extracts you know exactly how much of the healing ingredients from boswellia you are getting. 

Despite having a high concentration of boswellic acids, standardized boswellia supplements still have a problem with low bioavailability.  The best you can do to address this issue is taking the supplement with a high-fat meal. Boswellic acids are lipophilic, which means they are better dissolved in fats, which in turn increases their absorption in the body.

Who should take standardized boswellia extracts?

If you are simply looking to lower inflammation and acquire joint and hip pain relief and overall improved mobility, standardized boswellia extracts should do the trick. However, they have very limited bioavailability, so you would get better results by taking patented formulations that solve this issue. 

Best standardized boswellia serrata extracts

Here we’ll introduce some of the most popular standardized boswellia extracts and explain which one is our top pick and why.

NOW Foods Boswellia Extract

Now Foods boswellia softgels contain 65% standardized boswellia serrata extract.

Since boswellia is fat soluble, these softgels contain MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil that help increase absorption.MCT is a type of saturated fatty acid that as an extra bonus also offers heart and brain health benefits.

Softgels also contain non-GMO sunflower lecithin, a type of phospholipid that is sometimes used for improving brain and nerve function.

Now Foods boswellia extract is gluten-free, and produced in a GMP-compliant facility. There’s gelatin in this supplement so it isn’t suitable for vegetarians.

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: NOW Foods Boswellia Extract

Quick Facts

Softgels | 90
Name:
NOW Foods Boswellia Extract
Ingredients:

Active ingredients:  500mg of boswellia serrata extract (standardized to 65%)
Other ingredients:   MCT oil, gelatin, glycerin, water, carob, non-GMO sunflower lecithin, beeswax

Vegetarian:
Vegan:
Non-GMO:
Allergen Info:
Not manufactured with yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, fish or shellfish ingredients
Certifications:
GMP quality certified
Made in:
Made in USA
Where to Buy: Available on Amazon

Amandean Premium Boswellia Serrata Extract Capsules

This is also a good product. The main difference between Amandean boswellia serrata and Now Foods is that this one doesn’t contain MCT oil, which means that it has lower absorption. However, unlike Now Foods softgels, this product is suitable for vegans. Choose this product if you are looking for a boswellia serrata extract without any animal by-products.

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Amandean Premium Boswellia Serrata Extract Capsules

Bulksupplements Pure Boswellia Serrata Extract Powder

This is bulk powder boswellia extract, standardized to 65% boswellic acids. It has absolutely no fillers, which is a big plus for people who pay attention to added ingredients.

This powder is a good choice if you have troubles swallowing pills or want to take large doses of boswellia. It should taste great when mixed with milk or chocolate drink. You can also just add water. To increase absorption, take it with some coconut oil.

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Bulksupplements Pure Boswellia Serrata Extract Powder

Herbal Secrets Boswellia Extract

These softgels are one of the most popular boswellia supplements on Amazon. The reason for this is probably the fact that they are made in the USA, third party tested for purity, and have fairly low price.  These softgels are a good alternative to Now Foods boswellia extract (although they don’t have the MCT oil for increasing absorption).

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Herbal Secrets Boswellia Extract

Boswellia serrata supplements with high AKBA concentration

The products in this category are made with the use of special patented technologies. The main goal of these technologies is to increase the amounts of the most potent boswellic acid in the boswellia supplements – the so-called AKBA.

Who should get high AKBA boswellia supplement?

Several studies have proven that AKBA-centric boswellia serrata supplements work better than regular boswellia extracts for osteoarthritis treatment.

High AKBA levels also make these products more efficient for chronic inflammatory diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, bronchial asthma, and even cancer.

Research has shown that higher AKBA concentration generally translates to increased potency. AKBA has proven itself to be effective in alleviating the pain and disease activity of arthritis and other chronic conditions.

While increasing AKBA concentration enhances boswellia serrata’s overall effectiveness, this is further heightened by improving its bioavailability. Boswellia supplements are more potent when the boswellic acids, specifically AKBA, are absorbed more effectively and stay longer in the body. Thus far, only one patented boswellia solution – ApresFlex – has managed to increase both AKBA levels as well as enhance the bioavailability.

Best boswellia serrata with high AKBA concentration

ApresFlex: high AKBA combined with increased bioavailability

ApresFlex (also known as Aflapin) is standardized to contain 20% of AKBA, which is 10 times more than what you’ll find in ordinary boswellia serrata extracts.

Besides having high AKBA levels, ApresFlex also uses special patented technology that increases bioavailability of boswellia.

Studies about ApresFlex

Studies show that the proprietary composition in ApresFlex boosts the bioavailability of AKBA, which leads to better therapeutic effects.

In one clinical trial (8), the effectiveness of ApresFlex was compared with 5-LOXIN (another patented boswellia extract that contains 30% AKBA). In this study, knee osteoarthritis patients received 100mg of each formulation every day for 90 days. The results were measured via visual analog scale (VAS), Lequesne’s Functional Index (LFI), and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC).

Both treatments showed clinically and statistically significant improvements in pain and physical ability scores in the patients. However, ApresFlex achieved considerably better effects than 5-LOXIN. Osteoarthritis patients experienced improvements across the board (WOMAC pain, stiffness, and functional ability scores).

In the second clinical trial, ApresFlex had shown even greater potency over placebo, significantly relieving pain and improving joint function in as early as five days. By the end of the 30-day study, the pain scores of the osteoarthritis patients were cut by half from when they first started (9).

ApresFlex has been proven to be more efficient than 5-LOXIN (10) in inhibiting 5-LOX activity and preventing the abnormality of TNFa (tumor necrosis factor alpha, which causes a wide variety of diseases from inflammatory bowel disease to cancer).

Best ApresFlex supplement

ApresFlex is patented by Laila Nutraceuticals, and it is licensed exclusively to PLT Health Solutions. The most popular supplement with ApresFlex that you’ll find is Life Extension 5-LOX Inhibitor

Life Extension 5-LOX Inhibitor with ApresFlex

It comes in 100mg vegetarian capsules each with 20% standardized AKBA. The supplement adheres to cGMP standards. 

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Life Extension 5-LOX Inhibitor with ApresFlex

Quick Facts

Capsules | 60
Name:
Life Extension 5-LOX Inhibitor with ApresFlex
Ingredients:

Active ingredients: 100mg of patented boswellia serrata extract (ApresFlex)   

Other ingredients: Microcrystalline cellulose, vegetable cellulose (capsule), silica, vegetable stearate

Vegetarian:
Vegan:
Non-GMO:
Allergen Info:
info not available
Certifications:
cGMP-compliant
Made in:
Made in USA
Where to Buy: Available on Amazon

5-LOXIN: boswellia extract with 30% AKBA

Also patented by Laila Nutraceuticals, 5-LOXIN doesn’t have the bioavailability-boosting proprietary composition ApresFlex has, but it does contain a higher AKBA concentration of 30%.

Studies have shown that 5-LOXIN offers significant pain relief and helps improve overall mobility in osteoarthritis patients. These results can be seen is as little as 1 week.

However, ApresFlex seem to be able to achieve better results than 5-LOXIN as one 90-day study comparing these 2 boswellia supplements has found (11).

Where to buy 5-LOXIN

5-LOXIN is used by several brands. The most popular is Vitacost Synergy Boswellia Serrata.

Vitacost Synergy 5-LOXIN

You get 150mg of boswellia serrata extract with 30% AKBA for each serving (2 capsules). The product is gluten-free and is manufactured with cGMP for optimum quality. It is also vegetarian-friendly.

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Vitacost Synergy 5-LOXIN

Another popular option is Pure Encapsulations Boswellia AKBA.

Pure Encapsulations Boswellia AKBA

It comes with 60 hypoallergenic and vegetarian capsules each containing 100mg of 5-LOXIN. 

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Pure Encapsulations Boswellia AKBA

BosPure Boswellia: low in beta-boswellic acid

BosPure is a boswellia serrata formulation, standardized to 70% boswellic acids. The AKBA concentration is at 10%.

The main advantage over other supplements is that BosPure contains only 5% of the beta-boswellic acid (BBA). This is significantly lower than traditional extracts, which have 20 to 25% BBA. The reason for this is that BBA has been found to actually be pro-inflammatory (12).

More recent research, however, suggests that beta-boswellic acid has the ability to target harmful enzymes like mPGES-1 and CatG, which contribute to the development of a variety of diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to cancer. However, this positive effect only manifests at lower concentrations of beta-boswellic acid. Together, these studies suggest that BBA is beneficial in boswellia serrata extracts if included in smaller amounts (7) (13).

One study (14) shows that when comparing to products containing much higher levels of boswellic acids (30% AKBA and 85% boswellic acids), BosPure performs nearly as well- at least when it comes to inhibiting 5-LOX and another harmful enzyme called 15-LOX.

Where to buy BosPure

BosPure is patented by Dolcas-Biotech, LLC. The best one you can find is:

Terry Naturally BosMed 500

The softgels contain 500mg of boswellia serrata extract standardized to 10% AKBA and 70% of organic boswellic acids. The product contains no artificial preservatives and is non-GMO. It is not suitable for vegetarians as it contains gelatin.  

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Terry Naturally BosMed 500

Health Thru Nutrition Boswellia

This is the product you want if you prefer capsules. Be aware that it comes with a lower dose of 300mg BosPure. This one isn’t vegan-friendly either because of the presence of magnesium stearate.  It is, however, cGMP-certified for assured quality.

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Health Thru Nutrition Boswellia

Boswellin PS: boswellia extract usually combined with curcumin

A lesser known AKBA-enriched formulation is Boswellin PS by Sabinsa Corporation. It also comes with 10% AKBA and 70% of organic boswellic acids, but adds Polysal, a natural water-soluble polysaccharide also found in boswellia serrata extracts in a very small fraction. It has the ability to trigger immediate anti-inflammatory action that is then sustained by the fat-soluble boswellic acids.

It is hard to find boswellia serrata supplements containing solely Boswellin PS. This formulation is most commonly paired with curcumin, which we will talk about below.

Boswellia serrata with turmeric extract (curcumin)

Curcumin and boswellia serrata can do wonders on their own, but together, these two ingredients are even more potent as they amplify each other’s strengths.

Much like boswellia serrata, curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidant and anti-cancer qualities.

Who should take boswellia together with turmeric?

Boswellia serrata and curcumin are more powerful when taken together. With research demonstrating the use of curcumin on both rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, the boswellia serrata and curcumin combination is best for those who want to treat these conditions and other advanced chronic inflammatory diseases. These supplements are also perfect for those who want to take advantage of curcumin’s benefits for brain and intestines.

Research has also shown that boswellia serrata mixed with curcumin overall more effective in treating osteoarthritis than the herbs by themselves (15).  The boswellia serrata and curcumin tandem is also clinically proven to be the best supplement choice for master athletes who train intensively on a regular basis (16).

Here are some of the most popular boswellia serrata supplements with curcumin you can find.

1MD Advanced Turmeric Curcumin Platinum

This supplement contains patented formulations of both boswellia serrata (Wokvel) and curcumin (Longvida).  Longvida is a special curcumin formulation that has 65 times absorption of regular curcumin.

As mentioned earlier, Wokvel has 40% of standardized boswellic acids, but keeps them in natural ratios. It is also more bioavailable than the average boswellia serrata.

1MD complex comes in vegetarian-friendly capsules; each with 333mg of Wokvel boswellia serrata and 200mg of Longvida curcumin.

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: 1MD Advanced Turmeric Curcumin Platinum

Quick Facts

Capsules | 60
Name:
1MD Advanced Turmeric Curcumin Platinum
Ingredients:

Active ingredients: 333mg of patented boswellia serrata extract (standardized to 40%), 200mg of patented curcumin extract
Other ingredients: Vegetable cellulose, sunflower lecithin, stearic acid, maltodextrin, ascorbyl parmitate, silicon dioxide   

Vegetarian:
Vegan:
Non-GMO:
Allergen Info:
Non-dairy, gluten-free, soy-free, preservative-free
Certifications:
Manufactured in FDA-registered and GMP and NSF-certified facilities
Made in:
Made in USA
Where to Buy: Available on Amazon

Physician Naturals Ultra Premium 1000

This product comes in vegetarian-friendly caplets. It has 70% total boswellic acids plus Boswellin PS (10% AKBA) in addition to Polysal for immediate anti-inflammatory action. The turmeric added in here is Curcumin C3 Complex. There is also a small dose of Bioperine for improved absorption. Product is made in the USA.

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Physician Naturals Ultra Premium 1000

Planetary Herbals Inflama-Care

Each tablet has Bioperine, in addition to another anti-inflammatory enzyme called bromelain. It also has a bunch of other herbal extracts with anti-inflammatory benefits. Planetary Herbals complex is not suitable for vegetarians though. It also contains soy.

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Planetary Herbals Inflama-Care

Douglas Laboratories Turmeric-Boswellia Complex

In every capsule, you get 375mg of boswellia serrata standardized to 65% boswellic acids, 375mg turmeric root with 95% curcuminoids, and 50mg of devil’s claw root extract, a natural pain killer that also offers arthritis relief.  It is made in accordance with GMP standards, is non-GMO and gluten-free, but it has magnesium stearate so it wouldn’t be suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Get more info and read customer reviews on Amazon: Douglas Laboratories Turmeric-Boswellia Complex



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